For much of Hollywood, getting beautiful and staying that way is an obsession. The ethos is stardom at all costs, and budding talents are willing to do whatever it takes.
But Heidi Montag isn't an actress, or a singing sensation ... yet. Simply put, she is famous for being famous. She caught the public's eye on MTV's "The Hills," and her star continued to rise on the reality show "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!"
Now Montag, 23, is making a play for a stardom of real substance. She has released an album -- one that she hopes will turn her into a pop phenomenon. But Montag's blueprint for stardom is not limited to music. It also includes plastic surgery.
Montag recently came out of hiding after dramatically reshaping her face and body. She said she had 10 different plastic surgery procedures done at one time.
"Yeah, I had my legs liposuctioned on the inside and the outside," Montag said. "But it wasn't really to take out the fat. It was more just to contour the legs. And then I had my back-- scooped out a little bit to help give a curvier look and then a little bit on the sides, too."
Montag had breast implants, a brow lift, botox in her forehead, a nose job revision, fat injections in her cheeks, a chin reduction, neck liposuction and had her ears pinned back.
Some hospitals don't allow elective plastic surgeries to extend beyond six hours because of complications, but Montag said she spent 10 hours under the knife. She admits the procedures were extremely painful and the recovery taxing.
"I went to an after-care place," Montag said. "And I was in so much pain, and like, literally crying, and just saying, I-- I felt like I wanted to die almost."
Montag: 'I'm Not Addicted' to Plastic Surgery
We asked her how she would respond to critics who say she's addicted to surgery -- or to fame itself.
"I would say that none of those people know me at all," said Montag. "And that's just a judgment. I'm not addicted."
"The Hills" star said she had surgeries done three years ago as well, but that the intervening procedure-free time proved she was not addicted.
"If you're addicted to something, you have to do it all the time, not once every couple years, if even," she said.
If she's not addicted, she's admittedly obsessed.
"Before I went into my surgery, I was obsessed because I had to look through hours of photos of which boob size I wanted in 'Playboy,'" she said. "I did do that. I did for hours, and looking at which size, and how it looked, and what it would like on my body...You have to be prepared for your surgery. So if you're going to do surgery, it's like doing research, you know, for a paper that you're writing. You really want...to show the doctor the photo so there's no misconceptions, because I don't want to go in again."
But why go in at all? Montag says one reason is that she was teased about her looks as a child. But she also wants to become a pop star.
She told People magazine that she's entering the world of music and that she feels like she's competing with the likes of Britney Spears.
"I am trying to be a pop star, and I just have my album that came out," said Montag. "And, you know, it's a very cutthroat industry. And it's a very cutthroat business. And when Britney was in her prime, it was her sex appeal that sold. And without that sex appeal, I don't know if she would have had the career she would have had."
Montag's surgeon, Dr. Frank Ryan, defends his patient's decision, saying its not uncommon in Hollywood.
"We're getting literally hundreds of calls from patients who want the Heidi Montag bombshell," he said.
But why so much plastic surgery?
"I disagree that it is that much plastic surgery," said Ryan. "These are little tweaks and things we did ... these were all kind of small things. ..."
Montag said she liked the change. "I see ... improvement," she said. "I think that it sounds crazier than it looks."
Getting Used to Her Reflection
Her recovery was difficult, Montag said.
"In a way that when your looks are really taken away after surgery, it looks like you were in a really...bad car accident or, you know, I couldn't even look in the mirror for weeks," she said. "I had Spencer cover up all the mirrors, so I'm -- getting used to my reflection. ... It's honestly indescribable. It was-- it was a little bit shocking, just 'cause I had so much done that I think my body was just a little overwhelmed."
We asked Montag about her influence on young girls who might read her comments on her breast size: "Triple D isn't big enough."
"Well, my main message is that beauty is really within," Montag said. "I'm also in a different industry than they are. You know, I'm in a limelight. I'm in a different industry. And I have to do things that are gonna make me happy at the end of the day."
Montag's new album is ironically titled "Superficial." She said she's gone broke pouring her life savings into an independently produced music album, including hiring a producer who worked with Michael Jackson. She said she believes she has the same talent as the King of Pop.
"I have all the -- the same producers. You know, I have all the same [producers], so the quality of the music is just as good. It doesn't matter if you like me or not," she said.
But in our interview the popstar hopeful declined to sing.
"I'd rather not," Montag said. "I just had a lot of surgery. My jaw is very delicate."
She said she didn't get plastic surgery just to promote the album.
"Oh, no," she said. "That's all God's timing."
Singing career aside, Montag is talented when it comes to perpetuating her own fame. She's not bashful about what made her famous.
"I think it's an honor to get a paycheck in any way, shape, or form," she said, before recanting her words. "Let me clarify. For me, I'd rather be getting a paycheck for being famous for being famous than working at my parents' restaurant."
It remains to be seen whether what Montag did to her body will help her get the success she's after.
"Why is everybody getting surgery?" she said. "You know, it goes back to the beginning of Hollywood. And I think one of the keys here is, honesty is very important. I could have easily swept this under the rug, never commented about it, never said anything about it. But that would be a lie."